Bank-card pioneer D. Dale Browning is taking on a new challenge - revitalizing Procard Inc., the Colorado-based marketer of procurement-card programs.
Mr. Browning, who won a distinguished service award from the American Bankers Association last Saturday for his role in founding the Plus automated teller network, became Procard's president and chief executive officer Sept. 6.
He succeeded Stanley W. Anderson, Procard's founder, who stepped down in early July under pressure from an increasingly hostile board of directors.
Mr. Browning, 58, a former chief executive officer of Colorado National Bank and most recently a senior adviser to Visa International, said his move to Procard was unplanned and swift.
"The way this all started was that some (Procard) investors who are friends of mine asked me to come in, look around, and evaluate the company's potential about 45 days ago," he said.
"Actually, they asked me to take over right from the start, but I said that's not what I wanted to do," Mr. Browning added. He did the consulting as a favor, he said. "I had no intention of taking over. To be honest, I was just going to relax for a year or two."
"But the more involved I got, I saw that Procard was a product with great merit," said Mr. Browning, who retired as head of Plus System Inc. in 1993.
"It just needs to be marketed in different ways," he added. "Procard looked like a fun situation and one in which I could make a contribution. I'd like to become an investor, not just run it, and help it get to the next plateau."
David Robertson, president of The Nilson Report, an Oxnard, Calif.-based industry newsletter, said Mr. Browning's big-picture approach, in contrast to Mr. Anderson's style, might prove the right medicine for Procard.
"The board did not see where the payoff was going to come," said Mr. Robertson. Mr. Anderson, he said, "was trying to sell products with a very strong level of detail."
Mr. Browning said he had an agenda for renewing Procard's services and growth. His first goal is to reduce by more than half the data-transmission times between Procard and the companies it is connected to.
He also wants to improve the transaction detail delivered to users' personal computers, and the way the information is presented on the screens.
Mr. Browning is unsure whether Procard's data-processing conversion to Electronic Data Systems Corp. will go forward. The computer services giant, a General Motors Corp. subsidiary, had announced a five-year deal with Procard in July.
"We're in the process of reviewing it," said Mr. Browning, who noted that the conversion had been scheduled to take place this month. The company continues to use Total System Services Inc.
Mr. Anderson has not completely severed his ties to Procard. He has purchased a Procard subsidiary, Procard Inc. Ltd., formed 15 months ago to provide procurement- card services in Europe.
He will also do some international business consulting.
"Consulting is a less demanding position," he said. "My European staff is responsible for the day-to-day operations. I serve as chairman."
Mr. Anderson attributed his departure from Procard to "the lack of financial support from the current investors and a desire to step back from that" and the associated "strain of the environment."
"I would say that overall it was a very positive experience," said Mr. Anderson. "I created something in the marketplace that was not there before. I have great respect for Dale, and hope he succeeds in the future."
Mr. Robertson indicated that Mr. Anderson stood a good chance of further success overseas. "Europe might be more hospitable to his level of detail than the United States," said Mr. Robertson.
"His Procard approach was more sophisticated than most companies need," Mr. Robertson added. "They were selling a level of expertise that is not needed by most U.S. companies" but that more security-conscious European countries prefer.